The Tennessee Titans open training camp this Friday at Baptist Sports Park. But before you yawn over that, did you know that you can attend practices for free? Or get free autographs? There’s even free parking.
For many who have attended camps in the past, the routine and the sites are quite familiar. But for those who are rookies at this training camp thing — and maybe even the veterans can pick up a thing or new — here is a quick guide as to what to expect come Friday at the Titans practice facility.
‘Where it’s at!’
Some teams go away for training camp, heading off site to a college town for about a month. But the Titans train at the same facility they work at during the regular season and off-season — Baptist Sports Park, 460 Great Circle Road in the MetroCenter area, north of downtown.
To get there, take exit 85 off of Interstate 65. That is Rosa Parks Boulevard (formerly MetroCenter Blvd.). Go north until you get to Athens Way, and turn right. Stay on Athens Way until you come to Great Circle Road. Turn left.
Once there, there is one noticeable difference even for training camp regulars from years past. In previous years at Baptist Sports Park, fans had to park in a vacant lot a couple of blocks away and either walk or take a free shuttle service to practice. Now, fans are able to park their cars right across the street in the lot of the CVS/Caremark building.
The facility even has lights installed on the practice field that allows the Titans to hold night practices as well as regular work during the day, but don’t expect to hang around that long.
‘The big and little hands say…’
Friday’s opening practice begins at 3:30 p.m., as do open workouts on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Tuesday, Aug. 4, marks the first morning practice, beginning at 8:30 a.m. (Complete schedule at titansonline.com)
Some practices are closed to the public, and if weather becomes an issue (usually forcing the team into its practice bubble to complete its workouts), then fans will have to exit the facility.
Various radio stations will also broadcast from practice on a fairly regular basis, including 104.5 The Zone WGFX-FM and WNSR-AM 560.
Admission is free and so is parking. But fans that attend might still want to bring some money with them. That’s because there are refreshments (bottled water and soft drinks) and a bevy of souvenirs under a tent for sale.
Fans can purchase t-shirts and even old game-worn jerseys. If you’re willing to pay a few dollars, you could walk away with a jersey once worn by a former Titan. The jerseys are all of ex-Titans with the names stitched on the back. Just don’t look for any Albert Haynesworth or Eddie George shirts. If you’re really lucky, you might find one worn by Lamont Thompson or Eddie Berlin — someone you’ve at least heard of and who contributed for a few years.
More likely, what you’ll find on the racks are jerseys of guys like Orlando Iglesias and Donovan Arp whose “game worn” jerseys were worn in preseason only.
Keep an eye on…
Fans need to know their level of involvement at training camp is limited to watching the proceedings. Obviously, the time that Titans players and coaches are on the field is work time for them, and their focus is on the task at hand.
Fans are free to watch the proceedings throughout any open workout from behind the fence surrounding the practice field, with a few restrictions. Video cameras are not allowed to film practice, but still photography is permitted.
At the end of each practice, designated players gather in the corner of the area closest to the entrance and will sign autographs free for fans who want them. Players will have a pen to sign with, but fans should provide items such as paper, programs, helmets, etc., for them to sign.
Each player is given a designated day to sign, so if you want a particular player’s signature — say Vince Young or Keith Bulluck — check the calendar at titansonline.com to see what day that particular player is scheduled for autographs.
The first week’s schedule has been released. (See Autograph Lineup here.) The remainder will be announced soon.
Players attempt to accommodate as many fans as possible, but their time is limited, so patience and politeness are the tricks to the trade.
Most of all, try to have fun.